The five main islands accessible from the UK and mainland Europe (Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and La Palma) offer very different experiences for those tourists who opt to do more than sit on the beach every day. So, one means of promoting tourism is to develop two- or three-centre holidays, with tourists able to move between the islands quickly, conveniently and cheaply.
However, this sort of tourism barely appears to exist. In the twelve months to September 2013, island-hopping rarely exceeded 10% of the number of tourists. In other words, the vast majority of tourists stayed on one island and ventured no further.
Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are less than half an hour away from each other, connected by a frequent ferry service and the second island presumably visited by visitors based in Tenerife is La Gomera, which is also close-by. Although neither Gran Canaria nor La Palma has a neighbouring island particularly close-by, tourists based in La Palma are perhaps more adventurous in nature. Gran Canaria’s low figure is perhaps surprising, given that there are twenty flights per day to Tenerife and also frequent ferry services.
The analysis gets particularly interesting when we examine island-hopping by nationality.
Although Germans are more likely to choose all-inclusive holidays than Spanish or British visitors, it is the British who are least likely to visit other islands. This picture is consistent across all four big islands (La Palma was omitted due to the small size of the volume of tourists compared to the other four).
The question is why the British tourists appear reluctant to travel – I welcome suggestions on the matter!
Part 2 of this post will examine means of trying to increase inter-island travel by foreign and Peninsula tourists through some radical innovation to the fares structure, particularly by airlines.